What’s my confession? I have not always been successful at business. In fact, I had a huge business failure about 12 years ago. It has taken me a long time to share this, even when I knew it was important to do. The funny thing is that when you actually share, people see you as much more real and realize why you do the things you do. So, here is the story... I thought I was pretty darn smart. After graduating valedictorian of my small high school, going to an Ivy League school and graduating cum laude, I went on to work at a couple of different firms. Regularly, I seemed to get in over my head in new areas of marketing and always figured things out and got great results. So, I thought I could take on anything in business. When my wife and I moved to San Diego in 2002 for her to do a post doctoral fellowship, I could not find a job that seemed like the right type of challenge. So, I started looking more broadly and decided to buy a web design franchise. I would find the clients and manage the projects, and there were “production houses” that actually created the sites. Using my well-honed marketing skills, I created a way to differentiate my business from all of the other web design companies. I invested a lot of time and money testing ways to find new clients. And, it did not work very well. I woke up one morning in 2004 to find that my bank account was drained, we had accumulated close to $100,000 in debt, and I was exhausted. And the really depressing part was that when I started looking at best case scenarios, the number of new clients I needed to sign up each month to dig us out of debt was not realistic. So I went out and found a job. We filed for bankruptcy. It was definitely one of the lowest times of my life. However, my wife and family were there for me and after a couple of months, I made it through the darkness. In hindsight, there were three major problems with my web design business:
There was not a consistent source of leads and I needed new clients every month
The differentiator I was focusing on was not something small business owners cared about
I was not good at selling a commodity service
Over the next four years, I went to work for a couple of different companies. I learned a lot about lead generation and spent a lot of time helping these companies figure out what differentiation really mattered to their clients. In 2008, I went out on my own again as a marketing consultant. And believe me, I did things differently this time. However, I also brought the learning I had from my business failure: businesses need a consistent flow of leads and they need to differentiate their businesses in a way that matters to their clients. When I work with businesses, I want to make sure they never have to go through what I did with a failing business. They should be able to focus on what they do best and know they will have a consistent flow of qualified clients who want to work with them. And if I can help you or anyone you know start developing a consistent flow of leads, I would love to help. Now you better understand why it matters to me.